With so many options for the gadget lover out there let's look at some of our favourite options for both Blokart and Weta sailing.
First – you need to decide where, when and how you might use any electronic wizardry while sailing. There’s so much to choose from I can’t possibly look at them all so let’s simply focus on the items we have used or know others use when sailing their Blokarts and Weta dinghies. For this blog post I’m keeping it to electronic compasses and/or GPS Trackers for logging your sailing sessions.
Where are you likely to use your electronic gadget? Whether you’re sailing on land or on the water (or maybe you do both) you need to work out if you simply want a data logger to track your activity or something more. The obvious considerations would be based on if you need something waterproof for dinghy sailing, or simply resistant to the odd splash or maybe some rain if using it on a Blokart.
When are you likely to use onboard electronic devices? Are you a racer or simply enjoy sailing socially? Those of you who race may require more details to analyse after each session. For social sailing the chat afterwards tends to be based on how far and how fast you may have travelled, but not so much on the finer details.
How do you want it mounted? How much info do you want or need at your disposal during your activity? How will you view it? Does it need to be seen at a glance while sailing, or can it be tucked away in a pocket or dry bag until the end of your activity? Are you happy to view any post sail information directly on the device or maybe your phone, or will you upload it to your computer or laptop for viewing?
Our favourite choices –
Phones are a great option for logging activities and there are some great apps on offer.
Two of my favourites are RaceQs and Waterspeed.
RaceQs offers a considerable amount of info and is most easily described as Strava for sailing. I’ve used this for basic club racing on the water when I don’t need a compass or specific data within view. Its totally free but can be a bit hit and miss on some newer phones and unfortunately doesn’t appear to have been upgraded for a while – I still say it’s worth a try. There’s also the ability to put the app on your Apple watch if you have one. You can download their App from their website as well as upload and view your activities and see corresponding data.
Like RaceQs this is a well thought out App and has some great features. You can download the app for free and log your activities at the press of a button, but a number of features are locked. This means that to get the most out of the app you need to purchase a subscription which then unlocks features like playback and statistics of your activities, along with allowing you to log other sports like canoeing, windsurfing, Standup Paddling and a host of others. This subscription model can be purchased either monthly or annually which gives you some flexibility. There is a 14-day free trial available.
Dedicated GPS trackers
It seems Garmin have a device for every activity – Running, Cycling, Golf, Sailing ……….
Over the years I’ve used a few Garmin devices, most of which have been from the Forerunner or Edge product lines. I’ve not been brave enough to put them on the dinghy where a capsize might lead to total submersion. But for Blokart sailing the great thing about these devices is that they are small and can be mounted almost anywhere on a Blokart. Notably fitting them directly on the handlebar in front of you means start/stop buttons are easily activated and viewing is simple. If you have a POD fitted you can also tuck it nicely just inside the screen on the side strut where it’s a bit more protected from sand and salt, or other watery splashes. If you get a Garmin device with configurable screens keep them limited to one or two widgets at most so any info is clearly visible and doesn’t get lost amongst loads of other info. I would suggest keeping your base screen with either Speed/Avg Speed/Max Speed (as everyone needs to know this) or a combination of them. Other info on secondary screens might include distance sailed, time moving, compass bearing.
Velocitek offer a couple of great sailing specific devices, notably the SpeedPuck and Prostart.
I’ve used the Speedpuck on both the Blokart and Wētā dinghy. With a basic layout which offers either Compass Heading or Speed it’s the perfect quick glance device to have upfront. It also offers a graphical depiction of whether you’re getting lifted or headed while sailing along so you can make informed tactical decisions.
I’ve not personally used the Prostart but have seen them fitted on Blokarts by some pilots at the World Championships and based on the SpeedPuck along with a few other features I’m sure they’re a great piece of kit also.
You can read all about Velocitek products at the following links –
SpeedPuck - https://www.velocitek.com/pages/speedpuck
ProStart - https://www.velocitek.com/products/prostart
Vakaros have a couple of devices worth considering. The Atlas2 and the newly announced Atlas Edge.
The Atlas 2 is a lovely bit wizardry and has enough features to keep most sailors happy, whether you’re a weekend racer, Olympic Squad member or racing those crazy fast SailGP and Americas Cup boats. It is also a great size to have mounted in front of you on a Blokart. One feature I do like is the ability to read the screen easily even while wearing Polarized sunglasses (the SpeedPuck tends to have black areas when viewing with Polarized glasses). It also offers a fantastic battery life so one full charge will last you up to 100 hours. Another brilliant feature is the ability to set up different profiles using their partnering app. This has allowed me to set up different screens and timing features based on the activity I’m doing – so a 2 min countdown for Blokart sailing with basic screens showing speed/avg speed, and another profile for sailing the Weta with a 5minute countdown timer and customised screens showing compass bearing and a host of other valuable on water data.
The newly announced Atlas Edge looks to be a great piece of kit and with a lot of the same features as its big brother but at a lower price point, I think it would be well worth considering if you sail on both land and water. It’s available on Preorder until October 15 2023.
Visit Vakaros and look over all the specs for these devices.
It’s difficult to find a ‘one size fits all’ device and the tech is always changing, but these offerings should tick the box for most sailors in one way or another.
Cheapest - Mobile phone apps are the simplest and cheapest option (even on subscription) as most people carry a GPS equipped phone already so simply slipping it in a waterproof phone case or drybag really is an easy way to track your sailing activity.
Multi-purpose - If you already have a Garmin device that allows you to track an activity, whether cycling/hiking/skiing etc, you’ll already know how good they are, so adapting your device to use while sailing is a real alternative to purchasing some tech which is sailing specific. Just remember that cycling tracker might be great on the bike, but not so good if submerged on an upturned dinghy!
Sail like champions - Velocitek and Vakaros offer very similar products, and both are made for sailing specific activities, so you know they’ll be up for the job on either your Blokart or dinghy. The two Velocitek options (SpeedPuck & Pro Start) are really good pieces of kit and are definitely worth buying, but we like the Vakaros and think it edges out the others due to the customisable profiles, the countdown timer function and the polarized glasses friendly screen.
Remember, no matter what device you use, the most valuable asset is the sailor. Ultimately you need to keep your eyes up looking out of the boat (or Blokart). Simply spending time sailing is likely to be the most beneficial thing you can do to improve your results if racing, and if you’re only socially sailing, you’ll be fine if you’re smiling at the end of the day, but any of these gadget suggestions will give you proof to claim bragging rights after your sailing session with your mates.
Fair winds everyone 🌬️